Returning to the Fair with Knott’s Bear-y Tales and Triotech’s Nol Van Genuchten

In November, Knott’s Berry Farm announced a fan favorite would be returning to the park as part of the Knott’s Berry Farm 100th Anniversary Celebration. The new attraction, Knotts Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair, will feature classic characters in a new story, and replace Knott’s Berry Farm’s interactive dark ride from Triotech, Voyage to the Iron Reef.

At the IAAPA Expo, we spent a few minutes with Nol Van Genuchten, Vice President of Creative for Triotech, who will be the company behind the transformation of Voyage to the Iron Reef into Bear-y Tales. We learned a little bit more detail about the new attraction, which will debut in 2020.


C101: With re-theming  Voyage to the Iron Reef to Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair, will the same ride system be used?

Nol Van Genuchten: We’re using the same venue, we’re using the same ride system, but we’re re-configuring  the ride system to give us a better journey through that space, and to better be able to tell the story that is Knott’s Bear-y tales. Yes, it will be a media-based attraction and yes, we’ll still have screens in there, but we’ll be re-configuring the riide system and the position of the screens to give us a more immersive experience, to create more space, to have better theming and a better overall environment.

C101: Will the dark ride still have a level of interactivity to it?

Nol: It will still be an interactive, media-based ride, but we haven’t announced quite how, yet. We have very strong ideas about what that needs to be, we’re in the middle of developing that. I think it will be a great step forward and a great change for Triotech. It will not be a traditional “shoot-em-up” ride. It will contain interactivity beyond the simple “shoot at targets and score” that you’re used to seeing from Triotech. That’s going to be a very exciting part for us. The park has some plans for reveals during the spring, and we’ll have more details about that at that time, but we can say for certain that “it will be fun!”

C101: Knott’s Bear-y Tales is an IP that a lot people have nostalgia for. How do you hope to keep that nostalgia factor going for a new generation. 

Nol: That is the big part of the challenge, and that’s the exciting part. We all know what the historic version of this ride meant for Knott’s Berry Farm. It put them on the map with a certain type of attraction. We all know that Rolly Crump, as a ride designer, is iconic. For us to take such an iconic body of work by such an iconic designer for such an iconic moment that is Knott’s Berry Farm’s 100-year anniversary, that is an enormous privilege. That makes it all the more challenging and exciting.

Nol: We have, thanks to Knott’s Berry Farm, been given great access to archival materials, including original concept artwork from Rolly Crump and other photographic materials. A lot of time and effort went into researching and understanding the spirit and the soul of the ride. That is what we aim to recreate in a way with new technologies and for a new audience. That meant re-imagining the storyline. That meant rethinking how we can bring all of these things to life. We’re very conscientious of that. It’s our main focus, it’s our “North Star.” “How do we maintain this nostaliga that people might have, and how do we continue that nostalgia for a new generation. Hopefully, 10-20 years from now, people are still talking about Knott’s Bear-y Tales, but this time it will be a new generation.

C101: What are you looking forward to the most with Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair?

Nol: We’re looking forward to hopefully really making a connection between generations. We’re hoping that the people who grew up with Knott’s Bear-y Tales, who carry that emotion and nostalgia for the attraction with them, and now might have a first or second generation of new people they’re bringing to the park, we hope they can enjoy the new experience together as a group. We want the parents who experienced the attraction when they were children to be able to ride with their children or grandchildren and have the same experience of amazement, wonder and joy. We really think its going to bring people together.

C101: Voyage to the Iron Reef had some special Knott’s Berry Farm “Easter Eggs” throughout the attraction. Will there be any Knott’s Easter Eggs in the new Bear-y Tales?

Nol: We always hope to hide an Easter egg or two somewhere, right? [laughs] But that’s the thing about Easter eggs. You have to find them yourself. I’m not going to tell you where they are!


Thanks to Nol and Christian Martin with Triotech for their time during the IAAPA Expo. For more information about Knott’s Bear-y Tales, visit the Knott’s Berry Farm website, and follow the park on social media: Facebook | Twitter | ri. For more information on Triotech, be sure to visit their website.

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2 Responses

  1. Matthew says:

    Will the ride be accessible to people with disabilities, or those who use wheelchairs?

  2. Tim says:

    I can’t wait, but I’m very concerned about using the same ride system. One of Iron Reef’s biggest downers was the horribly slow load times on those ride vehicles. Especially on busy days, the slow load would make the wait time outrageous. It was my hope that bringing back Bear-yTales would also involve evolving to a better ride system that would handle the crowds much more efficiently.

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